The progressive, New York-based Union Theological Seminary hosted the first-ever Congressional Faith Orientation on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, which was attended by five Democratic Congress members who addressed the role religion and faith play in determining how they vote on public policies.
While it is a widely-held notion that the Republican Party is more beholden to faith and religion when it comes to integrating them in federal public policy decisions, the Democratic panel members discussed how their own religious beliefs have driven them to support policy items like welfare assistance, public funding for Planned Parenthood and criminal justice reform.
Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, R-Texas, Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, and James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, claimed that the biblical call to “feed” and “clothe” the needy, has influenced their continual advocacy for welfare assistance programs like the food stamp program, which Republicans have in the past tried to make significant cuts to.
Lee criticized the claim that the Republican Party is the only party inclined to act on faith in Congress. She asserted that the understanding of “faith in America” needs to be expanded and more tolerant to include the views of other religious beliefs and even lack of religious belief.
“I think faith goes through our bloodstream and if we are speaking to our collective body politics. I don’t want one party to claim the rights of the First Amendment: freedom of religion,” Lee explained. “We as Democrats… we should be bold in our faith. We should be conspicuous. We should not be oppressive. We [should] begin to just as well quote the scriptures around the policy so that America knows that they have choices.
“[They have choices] if they want to cut $40 million [to food stamps] but they don’t have choices in confining a party of non-believers versus a party of believers,” she added.
Cleaver, who cited Matthew 25 in his explanation of how the Bible calls on people to cater to the poor, said the biblical call for charity is why it is imperative for the government to provide poor women with the medical and family planning services they need, through public funding to the abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
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SOURCE: The Christian Post